LAN messaging and the home office

Reader Bill Phillips would like a little more open communication around his home. He writes:

My wife and I each work at home in our separate offices. I seem to remember that back in the OS 9 days there was a way to pop up a message on another computer on your network. It would be really helpful for us to be able to do something like this so we could trade little bits of information back and forth without yelling across the house. Can you do this with OS X?

Sure. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to use iChat’s Bonjour capabilities. On each computer launch iChat, open its Preferences window, click the Accounts tab, and enable the Use Bonjour Instant Messaging option. From the Window menu choose Bonjour List. The names of those running iChat on your local network will appear in this list. To send your wife a message, just double-click her name in this window and start typing in the resulting Chat With window.

If you want something that works a little more like it did in the old days, check out Jack Beckman’s free LANMessage. With LANMessage up and running on both Macs, you can send messages from one to other, where they appear in a translucent window. To compose a message just open LANMessage, choose Preferences from its menu, type your message in the Message field, and click Send. Alternatively, you can run the included Send LANMessage AppleScript, that pops up a message field much like the one you find in LANMessage’s Preferences.

To ensure these solutions work you might want to add iChat or LANMessage as a startup item on each computer.

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